Pacific Brands is not the only company chaired by James MacKenzie where there were pay rises handed out last year. Mirvac, the Sydney property developer, sought shareholder approval last year [pdf] to increase directors’ fees:

With effect from 1 July 2008, the remuneration of Non- Executive Directors of Mirvac Limited for services provided to Mirvac Limited or to any of its controlled entities be increased by $250,000 per annum to an aggregate maximum sum of $1,450,000 per annum, with such remuneration to be divided among the Non-Executive Directors in such proportion and manner as the Directors agree (or in default of agreement, equally).

How vigorously will the Liberal Party pursue the issue of executive remuneration at troubled Pacific Brands? Will federal president Alan Stockdale have discussions across the kitchen table on the matter with wife and PacBrands director Dominique Fisher?

The West Australian‘s new editor-in-chief Bob Cronin may be — according to Crikey commentator Lawrence Apps — “widely respected as an astute newspaper editor”, but is nobody in Australia concerned that one of Channel Seven boss Kerry Stokes’ best mates and right-hand blokes is still sitting on the Board of SBS? Does no-one — Cronin or fellow Liberal SBS Chairman Carla Zampatti — think it a possible conflict of interest?

Maybe they are all honourable people and they think what’s discussed in the inner-sanctum of SBS’s boardroom stays in Artarmon, but can they really be so naive? Or don’t people care any longer about the very clear perception of a conflict of interest at Australia’s second public broadcaster? Has anybody questioned it publicly since Cronin’s appointment by Stokes in December and has SBS mentioned it to anyone? Have they even thought about it?

I work at the Skinny Dog in Kew. They advertise in the local rag and the other day one of their journalists rang up and offered to do a positive review of our bistro in return for a free meal for him and some of his friends. When the manager said that he would do that but only with a letter from the bloke’s editor, he said that maybe because it was going to be a good report for a freebie, better to keep it just between themselves. I know these thing probably go on with journalists and restaurants but I never thought they were so open about it. Maybe that’s how they let them do it for less pay at the Leader? Anyway just thought you might be interested.

So much for the fairytale of editorial and advertising existing in isolation… I received an email from a journo today saying: “due to the high demand of editorial space in our magazine, I am having to limit editorial coverage for our advertisers’ products to give them as much of a marketing edge and leverage as possible in the marketplace. We support their advertising with us very heavily with editorial content.”

Travels of Sol #1: Telstra’s Sol Trujillo does not need to reconnect — I find Sol Trujillo’s statements about reconnecting with his family a bit fishy if not misleading. Apparently Sol has been slipping home to the US of A once a month and sometimes on a weekly basis — leaving Friday and coming back Monday — undoubtedly up the pointy end of the plane! Shareholders should be asking who was paying for these secret first-class “connections” and if Telstra was, who owns the frequent flyer points? Perhaps they should be divided up amongst shareholders or given to charity!

Travels of Sol #2: You write that Sol Trujillo is returning to the US at the end of June. However he is actually in the States more than in Australia with the latest internal estimate at only one week a month in Australia over the last six months. With another four months to go that makes his $13.4M salary even more obscene given it’s only a part time job.

I have a small Wizard Home loan. Yesterday I was informed by letter that the loan company would be AMS Mortgage Services (under the same terms and conditions). Today I rang to find out who AMS was, believing Aussie Home Loans and the Commonwealth Bank were taking over the good loans (We’ve never defaulted and repaid more than the minimum amount, so would not be a risk.) I was told that it is a subsidiary of GE Money which is not totally withdrawing from Australia, just not writing new loans. It was also confirmed that GE Money/or AMS would not be passing on any part of the last 1% Reserve bank cut whereas the Commonwealth Bank said it would be passing it on to the Wizard loans it is taking over. The only option for a reduced rate is to find another lender.

Jetstar could have beaten Air NZ to the punch in unwisely disabling critical parts of the Airbus A320 flight control system back in 2007. A training captain apparently decided in a revenue flight to demonstrate the dual failure of the ELAC (Elevator Aileron Computer system) to the other pilot. And guess what? He could not get them back resulting in a Direct Law approach and landing (one without important stability protections in operation).

Jetstar did not communicate this serious incident to the ATSB and it was about the time they failed to tell the ATSB about a missed approach to Tullamarine in fog when the crew placed the engine throttles in the incorrect position. It is a requirement that an airline inform the safety authorities of an abnormal landing. CASA should audit the pilot training and incident reporting standards at Jetstar without delay.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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